Tensions between striking miners at a platinum plant near Johannesburg, the police and mine owners Lonmin, increased on Wednesday when a court ruled the industrial action illegal.
The 3,000 rock drill operators must now choose whether to return to work or continue their wage dispute and face the sack.
The police and the military have continued their presence at the mine but the strikers claim not to have a quarrel with them.
“We work hard with the machines we use, but we cannot afford to send our kids to school. All we want is money. Even though they have sent the police here, there is no point, because we are not fighting against anybody. All we want is money,” said one miner.
But the wildcat pay strike which began last Friday has turned into a deadly standoff. Ten people have been killed in what has also become a tussle for power within the platinum industry between rival unions.